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  Updated: February 20, 2005


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Ashura observed with blood streams to mark Karbala tragedy

Ismail Zabeeh

HOLY CITY OF KARBALA, Iraq: 10th Muharram-ol Haram and the darkest day of universal history known as Ashura, marking the gruesome tragedy of Karbala in which the grandson of Prophet Muhammad (p), Hussein bin Ali (p), along with his 72 faithful near and dear ones was slaughtered unjustly 1,400 years ago, was commemorated in various parts of the globe on Saturday February 19 with religious reverence and solemnity.

Al-Imam Al-Hussein bin Ali bin Abi Talib (p) kissed martyrdom to defend Islam & Shari’ah and save high human values writing the best example of presenting sacrifice in love for Allah.

Hundreds of thousands of mourners from across Iraq converged on Holy Karbala to mark Ashura while at least 50 believers were martyred in at least eight terror blasts on Saturday in different parts of Iraq including Kazemiyah, which hosts the holy shrines of Al-Imam Al-Kazem (p) and Al-Imam Muhammad Al-Jawwad (p).

Soon after Fajr prayers, Ashura ceremonies kicked off with huge processions that flowed past the holy shrines of Al-Imam Al-Hussein (p) and his brother Al-Abbas (p). The mourners were wailing, weeping, crying, shedding floods of tears, and pounding their chests and heads with hands in deep grief.

Thousands of mourners slit open their heads with swords, big knives and razor blades streaming their blood to signify their grief over the martyrdom of Al-Imam Al-Hussein (p) – the tragedy which caused the sky to rain blood and the earth to bleed - and thus paid rich homage to Al-Imam Al-Hussein (p) who sacrificed everything in defending Islam which is today under obligation to him.

Similar Ashura ceremonies were also held across the country including Holy Najaf, Kazemiyah, Samara, Baghdad and Basra. In the capital, tens of thousands of mourners marked the tragedy which is 1,400 years old.

But the biggest commemorations took place in Karbala. Mourners had been gathering there all week, whipping themselves with chains and cutting their heads with swords to recall the suffering of Al-Imam Al-Hussein (p), who was martyred in the seventh century.

"We are expressing our love for Imam Hussein and we say to him: 'My blood has little value compared to yours'" said Moezz Jaafar, a 35-year-old truck driver who had come to the holy city to take part in the commemorations.

Tight security was in force across Iraq on Saturday, with the country's borders closed, and police and army units out in strength. Some 2,000 Iraqi soldiers and police were deployed in Karbala. Police said local residents and tribal members helped set up checkpoints. Traffic has been banned around the city.

"Go, son, go and cut your head like your father did," one woman in the crowd encouraged her small son.

25-year-old Ahmad Dakhel Jassem said: “This is a pleasure for us. Before, this was forbidden.”

Under ousted Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein, commemorating Ashura was severely punished, and the rituals had to be performed in private.

"We will never forget you, O Hussein," read banners carried by participants.

Ashura A’maal were performed, central camps by different organizations were set up throughout the routes of the processions to facilitate the Husseini mourners. Sabil of water, sweat drinks and tea were also arranged. Food from the table of Al-Imam Al-Hussein (p) was served.

In Syria, tens of thousands of mourners took to the streets of Sayyda Zeinab (p) shrine, south of Damascus, in the early hours of Saturday, Feb. 19, 2005 and cut the tops of their heads to show sadness over the tragedy of Karbala.

According to reports, Ashura was observed on February 19 in several countries including Iraq, United States, Canada, Bahrain, Kuwait, United Arab Emirates, Afghanistan, Turkey, Syria and Lebanon.

Here is a photographic report from some countries:






Hundreds of thousands mark Tasu’aa Day, Ashoura Night in Karbala

HOLY CITY OF KARBALA, Iraq: Marking Tasu’a day (9th Muharram) and the Ashoura night (night before the Ashoura Day), the atmosphere in Iraq particularly in the holy city of Karbala was very grieved on Friday and sky over the holy shrines was red in color, while violence on the day left more than two-dozen Husseini mourners martyred.

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